Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Traveling with an Amateur

Earlier this year, my husband and I readied to take a cruise. However, I broke my leg and fell down; while sitting on the couch (!), my husband blew out his knee and couldn’t get up. We not only needed the Clapper, but a crane, a cast, a surgical room, crutches, a walker, electronic equipment, a therapist . . . The list goes on and on. Needless to say, the cruise—all traveling—didn’t happen for quite some time. But alas, two knee replacements and a healed bone later, we’re walking carefully and looking forward to staying upright, even on our sea legs, during next week's cruise. (Please, Lord!)

I challenged us (read George) to pack for a two-week trip sans checking a bag with the airlines. I’ve business traveled often enough, and faithfully read the wise Joe Brancatelli’s drum-beat against it, to know better than to ever again check a bag. “No problem,” my husband said. “What do I really have to take anyway?”

“For starters,” I said, (see hand on cocked hip) “dress shoes, gym shoes and sandals. Two pair of your size 13 shoes will consume half a carry-on."

“Why do I need dress shoes?” queried Mr. Retired.

I shall spare you the discussion that ensued regarding “proper dining attire,” which, at the very least, also includes a sport jacket and dress pants—and no, cargo pants won’t cut it, not even if they’re “light beige.” But the most unbelievable tidbit wasn’t his desire to dress down; I was stunned to realize my husband has not flown (read dealt with the TSA) since The Quart Bag!

“I can’t take my can of shaving cream?”

“No, dear.”

“Can I take the large toothpaste that has a lot of it squeezed out?”

“No, dear.”

“How do men shave?”

“They buy shaving cream when they arrive, and/or many men have switched to the shaving brush and bar soap method of yesteryear.”

Then he went through the list of dilemmas we seasoned travelers long ago figured out. (Or did we?) What, exactly, constitutes a liquid or gel? Does squishy hair stuff qualify as either of those. (“Yes, dear.”)

As of this moment, we own three brands of quart-size bags. I told him they each pack differently, depending on the size of your stuff. “Some are taller than wider; others are, well, just different. Do you want it to zip, double lock or change colors when you run your finger across it? And honey, do you realize if you take that large glass bottle of cologne, that’s all that will fit in your baggie? No, you don’t need to put your pills in there, too. Yes, you have to . . . .”

My husband is a kind, wise and clever man. He scoffed at our neighbors who had all their stuff confiscated because they didn’t even KNOW about the quart bag. “Don’t they listen to the news?” He simply couldn’t believe it.

And yet, even when you have heard about it, but not until you’ve actually dealt with The System, does it reveal its mystery.

This all got me to wondering about something. What brand of quart bag do YOU use? Is there one you’ve found to be more reliable, that stays closed, even when you’re cramming that one last teensy item into it? And as for shaving men, do you buy when you get there? Rough it with shower soap? Use a shaving brush and lather? And ladies, have you found a makeup remover that also moisturizes? A moisturizer for which a little dab will do ya? A smart makeup base that isn’t liquid or gel? And everyone, is there a teensy toothpaste made that lasts an entire week? Chime in, won’t you?

In the mean time, please send some positive vibes to my husband. The whole REALITY of the quart bag knocked him into a minor tizzy.

“Honey, I feel your pain.”

Don't we all?!